Subject: Police Defy Court Order to Release Militia Chief: Lawyer

Police defy court order to release militia chief: lawyer

JAKARTA, Oct 24 (AFP) - A lawyer for former East Timorese militia commander Eurico Guterres on Tuesday accused Indonesian police of refusing to obey a court order to release his client.

But the lawyer, Suhardi Sumomulyono, also said he was demanding police protection for his client.

"For reasons not clear, the police are not letting him go," Sumomulyono told AFP.

The South Jakarta District Court on Monday ordered police to release Guterres on grounds of improper arrest, 18 days after he was detained for allegedly ordering his men to snatch back weapons surrendered to police in West Timor.

The court ruled that the arrest of the 27-year-old former leader of the once-feared Aitarak (Thorn) militia in East Timor, violated procedures because the arrest warrant was not produced until eight hours later.

However on Tuesday Guterres was still being kept at Jakarta's city police headquarters in a witness protection house, where he has been held since police on Monday changed his detention status to house arrest.

National police spokesman Senior Superintendent Saleh Saaf said Monday that police had chosen to keep Guterres under house arrest in the witness protection house, rather than fully release him.

And chief political and security affairs minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Monday that police were appealing the wrongful arrest decision.

"Police are using their right to defend putting Eurico Guterres in custody," Yudhoyono told journalists here.

Sumomulyono however said he would confront police over the stalled release.

"I will go to the court today and request a formal copy of their decision, which I will take to police headquarters and demand my client's release," he said.

But Sumomulyono said that while he wanted the "detention status dropped," he still wanted police protection for his client.

He said Guterres needed police protection because he was "being targetted by the law", and named four cases in which his client was being pursued by both Indonesian and foreign authorities.

"First, the UN in East Timor wants to extradite him, prosecutors in Kupang (West Timor) are still trying to place a 12 year sentence on him on weapons posession charges, the national police are after him in this current case, and he's been named a suspect by the Attorney General's East Timor investigators," he said.

"Eurico Guterres needs protection for his own security," he said.

The Kupang court will hear an appeal next week in the illegal weapons case in which Guterres was cleared earlier this year.

East Timor-based prosecutors have implicated Guterres in two massacres there in April last year and have formally requested Indonesia hand Guterres over to them for investigation and trial.

He is already under investigation by Indonesian prosecutors as a suspect in one of the two April 1999 massacres.

At the same time, Indonesian police are investigating Guterres over the alleged weapons snatch-back during a formal weapons handover ceremony in West Timor on September 24.

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